Daily Update #174

Today’s readings –  Isaiah 26:1-6    Psalm 118:18-27a    Matthew 7:21-27

Pause:

Trust in the Lord for ever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal.

Isaiah 26:4

I have a friend who is amazingly organised.  He runs his diary like a well-oiled machine.  He is amazingly reliable, meeting his commitments and delivering on his promises with very, very few exceptions.  He has family strategy planning sessions with his wife and children where he maps out what they should be accomplishing and he records decisions so everyone knows where they are going and what they are doing.  He has review sessions with the family so that everyone can measure how they did and whether their objectives were achieved.  

Contrast this with most of our lives where we are perhaps a bit less focused.  Getting the chores done, getting to and from work, putting the bins out on the right day, etc.  For many of us just getting through the day without collapsing in a heap along the way is about the best we can manage!  My wife Sarah has a card pinned to our noticeboard which says something along the lines of:  “When a man says he will do a job, he will do it.  So there’s no need to keep reminding him every six months….”  I’m still a bit puzzled why she thought that card would be appropriate for me!! 

Today’s reading in Matthew is really helpful for those of us who need to know how best to run our lives.  Firstly, the Lord makes the shocking statement that not everyone who says to him “Lord, Lord” will enter the kingdom of heaven.  The reason for this is that entering the kingdom of heaven is not just about words spoken (in this case “Lord, Lord…”) but about actions.  Did you see the statement about who will enter the kingdom of heaven?  It is he/she who “does the will of my [Jesus’] Father who is in heaven.”  

So the challenge is to make sure, day by day and minute by minute, that we take great care to ensure that we are doing the will of our Father who is in heaven.  

But how are we to know what the will of our Father is?  Read on and we encounter the familiar parable of the wise and foolish builders.  Far from giving us building regulations and instructions, this parable teaches us how to know the will of our Father in heaven.  Jesus seamlessly talks about his words and putting them into practice.  This person is the wise builder.  So that is how we are to know the will of our Father in heaven.  If listen to Jesus’ words and put them into practice then we will be those who are sure that we are doing the will of our Father who is in heaven.  

So let’s come back to Mr. / Mrs. / Ms. Aimless, the less focused person who I mentioned earlier.  Her / his focus needs to be sharpened by careful attention to the words of Jesus, followed by diligent and thoughtful actions to put these words into practice.  This requires focus and some discipline, but it is not beyond any of us.  Firstly, we need to make sure we are reading Jesus’ words and understanding them well.  Then we need to apply them to our lives and we need to put these words into practice.  We need to be honest about times when we don’t understand Jesus’ words (speak to your home group leader or another Christian who you trust to give you wise advice).  We need to be very careful and deliberate about practising what Jesus preaches.  

We also need to be realistic about how well we are doing in this effort.  If you think you have cracked it and everything you do is in line with Jesus’ word, you are either not reading enough of his words (Old and New Testament, as the whole Bible is about Jesus!) or you aren’t understanding what you’re reading.  If you feel that you can’t practise any of what Jesus teaches then ask for help from a trusted Christian friend.  I would particularly recommend joining a home group, as this is a fantastic place to hear Jesus’ word, think through together how we are practising it, and challenge one another is a friendly and practical way.  We were all made for relationships – relating to our brothers and sisters in Christ at home group is a big part of this!  

So don’t get caught out on this important point.  It’s not just what you say or think, it’s what you do, what you put into practice that matters.  Have a great day and put lots of Jesus’ words into practice!  

Prayer

Lord Jesus, 
thank you for your word, which teaches us how to enter the kingdom of heaven.
Make us those who listen well to your word and send your Spirit so that we might be able to understand what we read.  
Make us also those who put your word into practice, that we may be those wise builders on the rock.  
Thank you for providing brothers and sisters in Christ who can draw alongside us and help us as we seek to put your word into practice.  Enable us to serve others by helping them to hear your word and to put it into practice as well.  
We ask these things so that we may enter the kingdom of heaven and be able to worship you for all time as your saved and redeemed people.
        Amen

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